George Worthington Jr., a longtime emergency medical service provider and an ex-chief with the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and his wife, Mary Worthington, died in a motorcycle crash in New Hampshire.
Worthington, 61, was a critical care technician who was preparing for the bridge program to become a paramedic. He had been a member of the Flanders ambulance for 30 years and worked as the houseman and a first responder. His wife worked in the administrative office at Eastern Suffolk Cardiology.
“It’s a huge loss to the community. It’s a huge loss to our organization, for Suffolk County EMS,” said Flanders Chief Mark Dunleavy, who traveled with other chiefs and members to New Hampshire to be with the couple’s son right after the crash occurred at dusk Friday night in Gilford. He has known the Worthingtons since he was a child.
Their motorcycle went off the roadway and into a grassy area near an embankment. No other vehicles were involved. “From what we’ve gathered from being here, there seems to be a malfunction in the motorcycle,” Dunleavy said by phone on Saturday afternoon.
The couple, who went to New Hampshire for Laconia Motorcycle Week, had been riding with a group of friends and their son and daughter-in-law when the crash occurred. They were in the back of the pack and when their group realized they were no longer behind them, they turned around and came upon the wreckage, Dunleavy said.
George Worthington died on impact, but Mary Worthington was airlifted to Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. She was taken off life support on Saturday morning, Dunleavy said.
The Worthingtons, who he described as best friends, often took trips to Massachusetts, where their son lives. “He was dedicated to his community, dedicated to the organization — he was just family,” he said, adding that Mary Worthington always stood behind her husband and supported him.
“We’re in shock. Everybody is just kind of in disbelief right now,” said Bob Bancroft, chief of the Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance Association, where Worthington worked in addition to the Flanders ambulance. “He is a longtime member of Flanders ambulance, worked with us for the past six years. George wasn’t an employee, he was part of our family. We feel for his family. We feel for Flanders ambulance,” he said.
“George was one of those guys, he touched so many people,” Bancroft continued. “He was a great provider. He was just a great man. It’s very difficult,” he said, choking up, “to know he’s not here anymore.”
Those who knew him said how dedicated he was to emergency medicine.
Philip Cammann, the chairman of Suffolk Regional Emergency Medical Services Council, said Worthington “is the sort of person who EMS looks up to. Always there, always willing to help, always willing to teach.” In fact, many advanced life support providers on the East End received field training from him as he was a county preceptor.
“He had the experience and he was very good about it. He wasn’t all show — very calm, cool and collected — could handle any situation you could throw at him. I hope there are more of him that follow his tutelage,” Cammann said, adding, “Not only did he run a considerable amount of calls for Flanders, but being in Flanders helped out tremendously in Riverhead on mutual aids. He was an incredible role model for new EMTs because of his love of what he was doing.”
Many will also remember Worthington from the 7-Eleven, where he would hang out with a cup of coffee and talk to friends. “That’s where everybody, if you wanted to see George, that’s where you could find him,” Bancroft said with a laugh. He recalled how his friend “always had a smile and was always happy.”
Worthington was an EMS provider for the better part of two decades, but he was also “a hustler,” his friend said, snow plowing in the winter, driving buses on wine tours in the summer. He loved working on cars and trucks.
“George died doing what he loved. He was on his bike. His wife was on his back. The wind was in his face. That is where he was the happiest,” Bancroft said.
Services will be announced later, Dunleavy said.